Cyberbullying Victimization and Depression in Adolescents: The Mediating Role of Body Image and Cognitive Schemas in a One-year Prospective Study

Abstract

Cyberbullying, the harassment of others via new technologies, is a growing phenomenon with important consequences for its victims. Despite the growing interest in this new form of violence, only a few longitudinal studies have analyzed the relationship between cyberbullying victimization and psychological problems, such as depression, in adolescents. Furthermore, the mechanisms through which cyberbullying victimization contributes to the development of depressive symptoms remain almost unexplored. The current study assesses whether cyberbullying victimization predicts the increase in depressive symptoms over time and the role of body image and cognitive schemas in the association between cyberbullying victimization and depression. We hypothesized that victims of cyberbullying would develop a negative body image, the belief that others would hurt them and that they were defective to some degree, and that, as a consequence of these cognitions, they would increase their symptoms of depression. A sample of 1015 adolescents (mean age = 15.43, SD = 1.09) completed measures of depressive symptoms at three waves (T1, T2, and T3) spaced 6 months apart, measures of body image and cognitive schemas at T1 and T2, and measures of CB victimization at T1. Findings indicated that CB victimization at T1 predicted a worsening of body image and cognitive schemas of mistrust and defectiveness at T2, and those changes in cognitions predicted in turn an increase in depressive symptoms from T2 to T3. Gender differences were also examined. The model was very similar for boys and girls. However, changes in body image acted as a mediator between CB victimization and depression only in girls. Therefore, this study contributes to clarifying the cognitive mechanisms involved in the development of depression among victims of CB. These findings suggest that intervention programs with victims of CB should address the cognitions that are relevant for the development of depression.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Barchia, K., & Bussey, K. (2010). The psychological impact of peer victimization: exploring social-cognitive mediators of depression. Journal of Adolescence, 33, 615–623. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2009.12.002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Brausch, A. M., & Gutierrez, P. M. (2009). The role of body image and disordered eating as risk factors for depression and suicidal ideation in adolescents. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 39, 58–71.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bucchianeri, M. M., Arikian, A. J., Hannan, P. J., Eisenberg, M. E., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2013). Body dissatisfaction from adolescence to young adulthood: findings from a 10-year longitudinal study. Body Image, 10, 1–7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Byrne, B. M. (2006). Structural equation modeling with EQS. Basic concepts, applications, and programming. Mahwah: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Calvete, E. (2014). Emotional abuse as a predictor of early maladaptive schemas in adolescents: contributions to the development of depressive and social anxiety symptoms. Child Abuse & Neglect, 38(4), 735–746. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.10.014.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Calvete, E., Orue, I., Estévez, A., Villardón, L., & Padilla, P. (2010). Cyberbullying in adolescents: modalities and aggressors’ profile. Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 1128–1135. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2010.03.017.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Calvete, E., Orue, I., & González-Díez, Z. (2013a). An examination of the structure and stability of early maladaptive schemas by means of the young schema questionnaire-3. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 29, 283–290. doi:10.1027/1015-5759/a000158.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Calvete, E., Orue, I., & Hankin, B. L. (2013b). Transactional relationships among cognitive vulnerabilities, stressors, and depressive symptoms in adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 41(3), 399–410. doi:10.1007/s10802-012-9691-y.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Calvete, E., Orue, I., & Hankin, B. L. (2014). A test of the vulnerability-stress model with early maladaptive schemas for depressive and social anxiety symptoms in adolescents. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment. doi:10.1007/S10862-014-9438-X.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Cash, T. F., Fleming, E. C., Alindogan, J., Steadman, L., & Whitehead, A. (2002). Beyond body image as a trait: the development and validation of the body image states scale. Eating Disorders, 10(2), 103–113.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioural sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Cole, D. A., Maxwell, M. A., Dukewich, T. L., & Yosick, R. (2010). Targeted peer victimization and the construction of positive and negative self-cognitions: connections to depressive symptoms in children. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 39, 421–435. doi:10.1080/15374411003691776.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Davison, T. E., & McCabe, M. P. (2006). Adolescent body image and psychosocial functioning. The Journal of Social Psychology, 146, 15–30. doi:10.3200/SOCP.146.1.15-30.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. De Fazio, L., & Sgarbi, C. (2012). New research perspectives about stalking: the phenomenon of cyberstalking. Rassegna Italiana di Crimonologia, 3, 146–159.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Dekker, M. C., Ferdinand, R. F., van Lang, N. D. J., Bongers, I. L., van der Ende, J., & Verhulst, F. C. (2007). Developmental trajectories of depressive symptoms from early childhood to late adolescence: gender differences and adult outcome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48, 657–666. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01742.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Derogatis, L. R., & Fitzpatrick, M. (2004). The SCL-90-R, the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), and the BSI-18. In M. E. Maruish (Ed.), The use of psychological testing for treatment planning and outcomes assessment: Volume 3: Instruments for adults (3rd ed., pp. 1–41). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Didden, R., Scholte, R. H. J., Korzilius, H., De Moor, J. M. H., Vermeulen, A., O’Reilly, M., et al. (2009). Cyberbullying among students with intellectual and developmental disability in special education settings. Developmental Neurorehabilitation, 12, 146–151.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Estévez, A., Villardón, L., Calvete, E., Padilla, P., & Orue, I. (2010). Adolescentes víctimas de cyberbullying: prevalencia y características [Adolescent victims of cyberbullying: prevalence and characteristics]. Psicología Conductual, 18(1), 73–89.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Feinstein, B. A., Bhatia, V., & Davila, J. (2014). Rumination mediates the association between cyber-victimization and depressive symptoms. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 29(9), 1732–1746. doi:10.1177/0886260513511534.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Fredstrom, B. K., Adams, R. E., & Gilman, R. (2011). Electronic and school-based victimization: unique contexts for adjustment difficulties during adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40, 405–415. doi:10.1007/s10964-010-9569-7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Gámez-Guadix, M., Almendros, A., Borrajo, E., & Calvete, E. (2015). Prevalence and association of sexting and online sexual victimization among adults. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 12, 145–154.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Gámez-Guadix, M., Orue, I., Smith, P. K., & Calvete, E. (2013). Longitudinal and reciprocal relations of cyberbullying with depression, substance use, and problematic Internet use among adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53, 446–452. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.03.030.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Gámez-Guadix, M., Villa-George, F., & Calvete, E. (2014). Psychometric properties of the Cyberbullying Questionnaire (CBQ) among Mexican adolescents. Violence and Victims, 29(2), 232–247.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Garaigordobil, M., & Aliri, J. (2013). Ciberacoso ("cyberbullying") en el país vasco: diferencias de sexo en víctimas, agresores y observadores [Cyberbullying in the Basque Country: gender differences in victims, agressors and observers]. Behavioral Psychology/Psicologia Conductual, 21(3), 233–254.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Garaigordobil, M., & Martínez-Valderrey, V. (2015). Effects of Cyberprogram 2.0 on “face-to-face” bullying, cyberbullying, and empathy. Psicothema, 27, 45–51. doi:10.7334/psicothema2014.78.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Genta, M. L., Smith, P. K., Ortega, R., Brighi, A., Guarinni, A., Thompson, F., Tippett, N., Mora-Merchán, J. A., & Calmaestra, J. (2012). Comparative aspects of cyberbullying in Italy, England and Spain: Findings from a Daphne project. In Q. Li, D. Cross, & P. K. Smith (Eds.), Cyberbullying in the global playground: Research from international perspectives (pp. 15–31). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Gibb, B. E., & Abela, J. R. Z. (2008). Emotional abuse, peer victimization and the development of children’s negative inferential styles and depressive symptoms. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 32, 161–176. doi:10.1007/s10608-006-9106-x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Gibb, B. E., Benas, J. S., Crossett, S. E., & Uhrlass, D. J. (2007). Emotional maltreatment and verbal victimization in childhood: relation to adults’ depressive cognitions and symptoms. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 7, 59–73. doi:10.1300/J135v07n02_04.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Gibb, B. E., Stone, L. B., & Crossett, S. E. (2012). Peer victimization and prospective changes in children's inferential styles. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 41(5), 561–569.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Gini, G., & Espelage, D. L. (2015). Peer victimization, cyberbullying, and suicide risk in children and adolescents. JAMA, 312(5), 545–546.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Hankin, B. L. (2005). Childhood maltreatment and psychopathology: prospective test of attachment, cognitive vulnerability and stress as mediating process. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 29, 645–671. doi:10.1007/s10608-005-9631-z.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Hankin, B. L., Abramson, L. Y., Moffitt, T. E., Silva, P. A., McGee, R., & Angell, K. E. (1998). Development of depression from preadolescence to young adulthood: emerging gender differences in a 10-year longitudinal study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 107, 128–140.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Hankin, B. L., Snyder, H. R., & Gulley, L. D. (2015). Cognitive risks in developmental psychopathology. In D. Cicchetti (Ed.), Developmental psychopathology (2nd ed.). Hoboken: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2008). Cyberbullying: an exploratory analysis of factors related to offending and victimization. Deviant Behavior, 29, 129–156. doi:10.1080/01639620701457816.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Hu, L., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6(1), 1–55. doi:10.1080/10705519909540118.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Hyde, J. S., Mezulis, A. H., & Abramson, L. Y. (2008). The ABCs of depression: integrating affective, biological, and cognitive models to explain the emergence of the gender difference in depression. Psychological Review, 115, 291–313.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Ingram, R. E. (2003). Origins of cognitive vulnerability to depression. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 27(1), 77–88. doi:10.1023/A:1022590730752.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Kowalski, R. M., Giumetti, G. W., Schroeder, A. N., & Lattanner, M. R. (2014). Bullying in the digital age: a critical review and meta-analysis of cyberbullying research among youth. Psychological Bulletin. doi:10.1037/a0035618.

    Google Scholar 

  39. McCarthy, M. C., & Lumley, M. N. (2012). Sources of emotional maltreatment and the differential development of unconditional and conditional schemas. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 41(4), 288–297. doi:10.1080/16506073.2012.676669.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Mezulis, A., Hyde, J. S., & Abramson, L. Y. (2006). The developmental origins of cognitive vulnerability to depression: temperament, parenting, and negative life events in childhood as contributors to negative cognitive style. Developmental Psychology, 42, 1012–1025. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.42.6.1012.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Padilla, P., & Calvete, E. (2013). Cognitive vulnerabilities as mediators between emotional abuse and depressive symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 1–11. doi: 10.1007/s10802-013-9828-7.

  42. Paxton, S. J., Wertheim, E. H., Gibbons, K., Szmukler, G. I., Hillier, L., & Petrovich, J. L. (1991). Body image satisfaction, dieting beliefs, and weight loss behaviors in adolescent girls and boys. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 20, 361–379. doi:10.1007/BF01537402.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Pereda, N., Forns, M., & Peró, M. (2007). Dimensional structure of the brief symptom inventory with Spanish college students. Psicothema, 19(4), 634–639.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Ramos Valverde, P., Rivera de los Santos, F., & Moreno Rodríguez, C. (2010). Diferencias de sexo en imagen corporal, control de peso e Índice de Masa Corporal de los adolescentes españoles [Sex differences in body image, weight control and body mass index of Spanish adolescents]. Psicothema, 22, 77–83.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Rawana, J. S., Morgan, A. S., Nguyen, H., & Craig, S. G. (2010). The relation between eating- and weight-related disturbances and depression in adolescence: a review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 13(3), 213–230.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Smith, P. K. (2012). Cyberbullying and cyber aggression. In A. B. N. S. R. Jimerson, M. J. Mayer, & M. J. Furlong (Eds.), Handbook of school violence and school safety: International research and practice (2nd ed., pp. 93–103). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Smith, P. K., Mahdavi, J., Carvalho, M., Fisher, S., Russell, S., & Tippett, N. (2008). Cyberbullying: its nature and impact in secondary school pupils. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, 376–385. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01846.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Steinberg, L., & Morris, A. S. (2001). Adolescent development. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 83–112.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Spanish Society of Epidemiology and Family and Community Medicine. (2000). Una propuesta de medida de la clase social [A proposed measure of social class]. Atencion Primaria, 25, 350–363.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. van Geel, M., Vedder, P., & Tanilon, J. (2014). Relationship between peer victimization, cyberbullying, and suicide in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatrics, 168, 435–442. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.4143.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Vieno, A., Gini, G., & Santinello, M. (2011). Different forms of bullying and their association to smoking and drinking behavior in Italian adolescents. Journal of School Health, 81, 393–399. doi:10.1080/17405629.2011.644919.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Young, J. (2006). Young schema questionnaire-3. New York: Cognitive Therapy Center.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Young, J. E., Klosko, J. S., & Weishaar, M. E. (2003). Schema therapy: A practitioner's guide. New York: Guilford.

Download references

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by a grant from the Spanish Government (ref. PSI2012-31550). Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Esther Calvete, Department of Personality, Psychological Assessment and Treatment. University of Deusto. Apdo. 1, 48080-Bilbao (Spain). E-mail: esther.calvete@deusto.es

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Esther Calvete.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Calvete, E., Orue, I. & Gámez-Guadix, M. Cyberbullying Victimization and Depression in Adolescents: The Mediating Role of Body Image and Cognitive Schemas in a One-year Prospective Study. Eur J Crim Policy Res 22, 271–284 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10610-015-9292-8

Download citation

Keywords

  • Body image
  • Cognitive schemas
  • Cyberbullying
  • Depression
  • Victimization